Pema Chodron on solitude

Tricycle, the Buddhist magazine, offers this excerpt by Pema Chodron from her 2005 book No Time to Lose. The excerpt is titled “Cutting Ties: The Fruits of Solitude.” The bylines tells all about the article: “Pema Chödrön walks us through Shantideva’s prescription for solitude, verse by verse.” Thanks to a friend of Hermitary for pointing out this excerpt.


Hollywood hermits, 1930’s

In the heyday of Hollywood, California, in the 1920’s and 30’s, several hermits become well-known, among the many eccentrics profiled in a November 21, 1938 issue of LIFE magazine titled “Cuckooland.” Among these were Peter Howard, called “Peter the Hermit,” a Dr. Newman, and Harry Hermann, called “Herman the Hermit.”

Peter Howard played bit parts in silent films, usually as a “biblical” character given his eccentric appearance: long beard, robe, and staff. He also posed for photos with tourists. Peter lived in a wooden shack in the outskirt hills of Hollywood, with a burro, a goat, and a dozen greyhounds. These Los Angeles Times clippings may refer to the same person: Peter as an adherent of a cult temple (but later portrayed as constantly reading the Bible) and Peter the 1927 octogenarian learning how to dance (but later dying at 90 in 1969). and One blogger’s search for Peter the Hermit in photos, and a photo of Peter the Hermit with a greyhound.

Nothing else is known of the other hermits except what the magazine captions tell us: “Dr. Newman” was the sole member of his own religious cult and lived in a tree. Harry Hermann, called “Herman the Hermit,” is similar in style to Peter Howard, and was known to walk the streets of Hollywood much of the day. He lived in Laurel Canyon.